Work of Art

A fearless attitude and bright color help this former hat model combat cancer

Who: Melisande Charles, 80, visual artist.   

The Story: Melisande is a woman with presence. She glided, unfazed, wearing red lipstick and shoes, into the photo studio directly after driving herself from the radiation treatment that she’s undergoing for cancer.

Our Stylist’s Take: “I love a hat and the attitude that comes from wearing one. I evoked Melisande’s spirit with bright color. I call this one ‘artistic integrity with panache.’”

Fit Tips: Melisande wanted to smooth out her silhouette and nip in her waistline. The drape, textures, and patterns all helped create a smoother, sleeker silhouette. The outfit is stylish, but also comfortable—layers allow for temperature control, and a low wedge shoe is more comfortable to walk in than a stiletto, but still gives height.

In Living Color: Melisande was once a hat model in New York! Given her art background, she has an eye for style, but sees her wardrobe as a uniform, taking her from Pilates to dinner dates, adding accessories occasionally.  This outfit keeps it simple while complementing both her figure and charming personality.

The Take-Away: “I approve of glamour,” she says.

Melisande Charles

Where to Get it

Hat, $125 @ Rags from Riches Consignment, 848 E. Lake St., Wayzata, 952-473-1435, Brooch on hat, $20 @ The Guild, 4414 Excelsior Blvd., St. Louis Park, 952-378-1815, Black earrings, $35 @ The Guild. DKNY cardigan, $155 @ Neiman Marcus, 505 Nicollet Mall, 612-339-2600, Elena Miro platinum brooch top, $160 @ Bombshell Boutique, 794 Grand Ave., St. Paul, 651-330-2605. Pendleton charcoal wool trousers, $168 @ Bombshell Boutique. Stuart Weitzman wedges, $350 @ Neiman Marcus.


“It’s been fun decorating a bald head,” Melisande told stylists on the set. 


The drapey cardigan is sophisticated and the bold graphic pattern appealed to Melisande’s artistic sensibilities. Plus, it’s flattering.

This hat makes a major fashion statement on its own; no need for a Gaga-esque outfit to match.

A strip of false lashes helped fill in Melisande’s sparse ones and made her baby blues pop.

 See behind-the-scenes at